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Idea: A different type of HUD data for cars

February 22, 2010

For those of you who don’t know HUD stands for “Heads Up Display.” I first learned of it in the sci-fi TV show Stargate: Atlantis, but Wikipedia tells me that they’ve been around in fighter jets since the 50s.

I’ve always thought that cars should have HUDs, but I thought it was science fiction, or at least not going to happen for another five or ten years. Well, the technology apparently already exists, and has since 1988 (also from Wikipedia) in General Motors vehicles. They’ve also been advertised by several car companies in the last few months, although I don’t remember who (Lexus and BMW, probably). Apparently I’v been driving the wrong kind of car.

But the HUD is not my idea. My idea is what the HUD should display.

I live in Southwest Michigan, in the country, in a small town surrounded by corn fields. It takes ten minutes on back roads to get to the freeway, and another fifteen minutes to get to the nearest city (more of a town, really). The drive is a little long, but pleasant enough in the summer and fall.

But if any of you know Michigan, or also live in a snow belt, you know that the five months of winter are the worst for driving, especially on the back roads when there’s snow on the ground, and especially at night.

Idea #1: Sensors in the divider lines
Every car should be equipped with a HUD, and the divider lines on the roads should have little sensors in the paint (like the reflective paint chips), that emits some sort of frequency that your car can pick up. Taking the information from the sensors on the road, the HUD would then superimpose the divider lines on your windshield, so you would know where they are at all times.

This would alleviate all sorts of problems, especially where the roads are narrow and the shoulder is soft, and people tend to drive more toward the middle of the road, which is fine for when you’re the only one there, but if someone else is headed your way, it causes all sorts of trouble. The data from the sensors could also be used if you start to drift into a different lane, because you car could alert you (actually, I think I saw a commercial where they do this already).

Idea #2: Thermal imaging
As you might imagine, deer and other forest animals are a hazard on the roads that take me home, especially at dusk, when they are hardest to see. I think that a HUD should have thermal imaging (that you could turn off, for highway driving) so that you could “see” any animals that might be on the side of the road, ready to run across, and react accordingly.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. spreadsheets4me permalink
    February 22, 2010 7:06 pm

    I like those ones! Especially the road divider one! (I let Adam drive where there are deer). 🙂

  2. February 22, 2010 11:25 pm

    #1) First, there exist some camera systems that can track what lane you are in (I think that is what you are referring to). I do not know of any magic paint yet. I think your best bet on that count would be an RFID chip (like the ones in EZ-PASS, EZ-TAG, I-PASS, etc.) that would “squeak” (in radio waves) in response to an incoming signal from enabled vehicles. That would make powering the road bits unnecessary; such chips could probably be had for around $1/unit today, although I know a number of people are working to get that down to a penny or so each.

    #2) Oh, like this: 🙂 Yeah. It is amazing what you can get if you’re willing to drop the money on it.

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